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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 2713 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

never brought in to replace them. They allowed the system to wind back and did not replace doctors, as we are attempting to do, with doctors in the system. We are attempting to be up front about our approach. We have to ensure as an Assembly that the primary health care responsibilities that are given to us by the Commonwealth are carried out to the best of our abilities.

Motion (by Mr Berry) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the debate on this motion of censure from concluding.

MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (12.26): The Opposition will be supporting Mr Osborne's motion. I think the Government should take very careful note of the fact that Mr Osborne has moved this motion; that Mr Osborne, who supported the election of this Chief Minister, who supported the formation of this Government, has felt forced to take this step so early in the life of this administration. As members will know, Labor opposed the removal from our health centres of the salaried medical practitioners, and we opposed that for very good reason. We considered that our health centres were best served by a mix of salaried and private medical practitioners. We considered that the communities that were being served by those health centres well and truly deserved the maintenance of that service.

I think there is a fundamental ideological difference here between the Liberals and Labor. The Liberal Party has argued, and Mrs Carnell has argued again today, that the removal of those salaried medical officers will save money - $600,000, she has claimed - and I want to say a few things about that. First of all, I do not believe that the removal of those salaried medical officers on its own will save $600,000. I simply do not believe it. The fact of the matter is that the salaried medical officers' salaries were pretty much recouped by Medicare payments, and that is a fact. Mrs Carnell has tried to perpetrate an illusion here that somehow the community was having to bear the full cost, and that is simply not the case. I would like to ask Mrs Carnell: What was the payout figure for those doctors? What was the redundancy cost for nine salaried medical practitioners? Why has she not mentioned that cost to the community? It is because the line of argument being put forward by this Government is as fraudulent as their attempts to justify the actions they have taken since 24 August.

Mrs Carnell has claimed that there will be $600,000 in savings. My view is that that saving can occur only if there is a reduction in all of the ancillary services that occur in those health centres. I do not believe their figures and I do not believe that this Assembly should either. Now that the Government have been exposed for their attempt to defy the will of this Assembly, there is no reason why this Assembly should take their word for anything on the matter of these health centres, and I, for one, do not believe them. The other question about the cost of these services at the health centres is fundamental to the provision of health services in our community. Mrs Carnell has claimed that this $600,000 is in some way a waste of money, that we could be spending it better elsewhere. I do not agree with that. I believe that the provision of community health services where they are needed, where they are accessed and where they are valued by the community is a fundamental part of any caring Government's response to its community needs.

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